Food Zone

Food Zone Program

“Kandahar, Farah, Urozgan, Badakhshan”


A Governor-Led and Agriculture & Rural Development Cluster- Supported Counter Narcotics Program (2012-2015)

A platform for more comprehensive efforts through strategic partnerships and decentralized approaches to security, governance and development in drug-crop producing areas


Executive Summary

The 2008 to 2010 seasons saw the successful implementation in Helmand Province of a ground-breaking provincial counter narcotics strategy. The Food Zone Program, led by Governor of Helmand, has won substantial recognition and praise from the central government and the international community.

Based on lessons learned from Helmand and other development interventions in the southern provinces, the Kandahar, Farah, Urozgan and Badakhshan Food Zone Program is a four-part counter narcotics strategy designed to reduce opium cultivation and increase the effectiveness and legitimacy of the provincial administration. It consists of:

  • A robust Public Information (PI) campaign,
  • Alternative Livelihood (AL) inputs to subsistence and marginal farmers to reduce their dependency on opium poppy cultivation and to assist diversification of licit sources of income to achieve greater food security,  
  • Increased Law Enforcement (LE) including eradication of poppy in areas which received both PI , AL and
  • An expanded Drug Demand Reduction (DDR) program.

The Food Zone (FZ) is designed as an “ink-spot” strategy that enables Transition, over the three years of the program, from an opium poppy based agricultural economy to a licit agricultural economy as mentioned in the National Alternative livelihood Policy.  During the duration of the program, poppy-free zones are created and expanded each year to cover greater areas of the province. As such, success is achieved by a targeted, gradual and multi-year effort.  Gains in reducing drug crop cultivation and the creation of poppy-free zones will be consolidated prior to geographic expansion of the program.  Seven districts and five agricultural research and extension farms make up the Kandahar Food Zone, five districts and one agriculture research and extension farm for Farah and Urozgan and ten districts and three agriculture research and extension farms for Badakhshan.  The districts were selected by the Provincial Governors, Provincial Council and Directorate of line ministries.

Poor security conditions caused by the insurgents and criminal activity, destruction of institutions needed for high value agriculture and widespread institutional corruption all contribute to the drug crop cultivation problem.  The Food Zone program includes the following tenets:  transition from illicit crops to sustainable agriculture; a whole of government approach and simplicity, ensuring a robust and realistic program.

The Public Information component provides a full spectrum plan to target audiences through a range of mechanisms including Shuras, radio and television messages, messaging through religious and community leaders, high profile events and posters and promotional material.

The Alternative Livelihood component provides a diverse range of agricultural input packages to provide farmers with high-quality, income-generating alternatives.  The goal is for 30 percent (93,921 farmers) of subsistence and marginal farmers in the targeted districts of the four provinces to receive inputs (Kandahar 30,380+ farmers, Farah 21,105+farmers, Urozgan 12,070+ farmers, Badakhshan 30,366+ farmers).  Each farmer pays a contribution for the inputs amounting to 40% of the actual cost. 

The important elements of the AL campaign are developing: expansion of licit crops like improved wheat varieties, high -value medicinal plants depending on the opportunities in the target province( i.e.,  saffron , black cumin, Licorice) ,livestock and improved dairy cattle, high value perennial  horticulture (improved orchards, Vineyards  and greenhouses ) and support to research and extension centers.)   

The Eradication and Law Enforcement (LE) component of the Food Zone program starts early in the cultivation season and encompasses three areas:  self-eradication; the Governor Led Eradication (GLE) and measures to disrupt poppy lancing.  A priority order of eradication has been established and the program aims to eradicate all drug crops in the seven districts.  Interdiction is another key element of the LE element of the Food Zone program. 

The Drug Demand Reduction (DDR) component of the Food Zone consists of expansion of Kandahar, Farah, Urozgan and Badakhshan provinces’ drug addict treatment capacity by 100 percent, preferably through existing mechanisms and programs.  Additionally, the Food Zone program aims to broaden the reach of the Public Information component to reach the drug addicted population of the province.

The program structure includes a Program Commission, chaired by the Governor, to monitor and evaluate the working groups that lead the AL, LE, PI and DDR components of the program.  Each working group plans, implements, monitors, and evaluates and reports on their areas.  A Planning Secretariat supports the Working Groups with project planning and security arrangements and a Compliance Unit provides support to the Working Groups.  Finally, a Direct Technical Assistance Program Unit provides capacity to the FZ program.

Reporting Requirements include provision of milestones and key performance indicators. Additionally, each working group produces a monthly report for the Program Commission with specific elements of information.  Specific key performance indicators are established for each working group.

Monitoring of the Program includes Community-based Monitoring from Community Councils and Cooperatives and Formal Monitoring from agricultural extension workers from MAIL, systematic security monitoring from security patrols and aerial imagery. 

Risk mitigation includes measures to insure plant and animal health and a range of measures to control/mitigate corruption risk.  Security risks also have control/mitigation measures.  The Law Enforcement Working Group (LEWG) works to minimize security risks.

Socio-economic and Governance Outcomes of the Program

The expected outcomes of the Program are:

  • A significant reduction in the negative impacts the opium trade has on security, governance and the economy in the targeted provinces.
  • Farmers choose to cultivate a greater percentage of licit crops.
  • Farmers have a diversified income from licit livelihoods including high value horticultural crops and livestock.
  • Farmers commit their land to licit crop use in the medium to long term.
  • Farmers transition to perennials such as high-value horticulture, orchards and vineyards, thus removing those lands from use for illicit crop cultivation.
  • The standard of farming and husbandry skills and practices in the targeted provinces is improved thus improving the return on investment in licit crops and livestock production.
  • Participation in the narcotics trade, including cultivation and trafficking, becomes a higher risk activity – and the higher risks act as a deterrent to involvement.
  • Districts take a primary role in the development and delivery of the Counter Narcotics Strategy.
  • Sub-national governance gains legitimacy and real capacity through implementation of the program.

Program Outlook

The Food Zone is a Transition program that runs for a period of 3 years from fall 2012 to fall 2015. The Food Zone provides short term interventions that allow for early reductions in illicit crop cultivation with a transition to sustainable agricultural practices and outputs associated with long term agricultural development programs.  At the conclusion of 2015, the Food Zone program will be “on-budget,” funded through the Ministry of Finance and implemented by the appropriate line ministries.

Sustainability of the 2012/15 program

The Food Zone program will achieve sustainable reductions in poppy cultivation through the following impacts:

  • Reducing the effect of narcotics on the province, nation and the world.
  • Strengthening and diversifying licit sources of income for subsistence and marginal farmers.
  • Contributing to the national goal of food security, recognizing that food insecurity is one of the key drivers of opium poppy cultivation.
  • Substituting poppy with high-value horticulture crops, livestock, dairy and specialty crops such as saffron, cumin which generates higher economic returns and ‘raises the stakes’ of switching back to drug crops.
  • Increasing agricultural productivity and market quality of high-value crops through training of farmers at Research and Extension Centers.
  • Reducing the immediate financial pressure on farmers through the provision of below-cost inputs thus reducing financial demands on the household which might otherwise lead farmers to seek opium credit (only a transitional measure).
  • Enhancing governance in the targeted provinces by demonstrating to their people that the Government is able to deliver large-scale programs and implement rule-of-law in the province.
  • Developing capacity of provincial authorities through close involvement of line ministries thus strengthening their ability to deliver future programs.

Medium term outlook

Over a medium term timescale, the Office of the Governor envisages that the CN strategy for the province will evolve as follows:

  • The Governor will continue to deliver against a four part strategy of PI, AL, DDR and LE each year. The ability to conduct strong and consistent PI campaigns each year against the Food Zone ‘brand’ is a major benefit.
  • There will be a gradual expansion of the Food Zones to encompass a greater area of the targeted provinces.
  • A shift of focus from annual crops (e.g. wheat) to perennial crops and orchards will occur. Wheat is an immediate substitute for poppy; however perennials and orchards generate higher long term returns and make it significantly harder for farmers to revert to drug crop cultivation.
  • A greater emphasis on development of processing facilities will be realized. To fully benefit from the economic benefits of alternative crops the Food Zone must deliver against the full value chain, developing agricultural and business markets;
  • Enhancement of the effectiveness of eradication as a deterrent to drug crop cultivation. There is no miracle crop which can substitute for poppy and it is unlikely that alternative crops will rival poppy in terms of economic attractiveness. Therefore, strengthening the law enforcement component through the Food Zone Program is essential to prevent a return to drug cultivation.
  • Increased capacity of the provincial authorities to deliver essential services such as education and health care, particularly in the area of drug treatment and rehabilitation. As line ministries continue to develop capacity, it is anticipated that they will assume a greater role in program delivery.
  • A long term reduction in drug cultivation will be achieved by a balanced combination of direct agricultural assistance, agricultural and business market development, strengthened governance, substantial drug demand reduction and effective law enforcement.  

Program Management

The Program is led by the Governor of the targeted province who chairs the Food Zone Program Commission which includes strong representatives from all major DAIL, provincial and district stakeholders. Reflecting the successful models provided by the Helmand Food Zone and recent USAID and CIDA wheat seed and fertilizer distribution campaigns, working groups are formed for each of the four Program areas: Public Information, Alternative Livelihoods, Law Enforcement and Drug Demand Reduction. To ensure effective coordination, representatives of the Provincial Council are members of the Program Commission and all working groups.

 A proposed financing strategy would include:

PI – funding is requested through existing programs of the British and U.S. embassies and is initially channeled through the PRT with a transition to “on-budget” funding as the program progresses.

AL – Donor assistance is requested from existing programs of DFID and USAID.  Preliminary indications are that DFID’s support to the Comprehensive Agriculture and Rural Development Facility would be very useful in defining the needs in Kandahar and the USAID Regional Agricultural Development Program, coordinated through MAIL, is a possible substantial contributor.

LE – Funding for LE is expected to continue through the Governor Led Eradication program with budget prepared prior to eradication plans. 

Program Management – a small budget is required to support the Direct Technical Assistance Program.

Drug Demand Reduction – Expansion of drug treatment capacity is a high priority for the Governor and for the MCN. GPI awards for a substantial reduction in poppy cultivation in 2012 -2013, could also be a source of funds.


  1. KFZ ANNUAL REPORT, (01 August 2014 - 31 August 2015)
  2. KFZ ANNUAL REPORT, (01 September 2015 - 30 September 2016)

KFZ Monthly Report:

  1. KFZ Monthly Report January - 2016
  2. KFZ Monthly Report  Februray -2017
  3. KFZ Monthly Report - August 2017

KFZ Weekly Report - 2018

  1. KFZ Weekly Report 30Dec 2017 - 4Jan  2018

KFZ Weekly Report - 2017

  1. KFZ Weekly Report March 25-30,  2017
  2. KFZ Weekly Report April 15-20, 2017
  3. KFZ Weekly Report April 29-May 4 2017

KFZ Weekly Report - 2016

1. KFZ Weekly Report 2016

2. KFZ Weekly Report 2016

3. KFZ Weekly Report 2016

4. KFZ Weekly Report 2016

5. KFZ Weekly Report 2016

6. KFZ Weekly Report 2016

7. KFZ Weekly Report 2016

8. KFZ Weekly Report 2016

9. KFZ Weekly Report 2016

10.KFZ Weekly Report 2016

11.KFZ Weekly Report 2016

KFZ Weekly Report - 2015

1. KFZ Weekly Report 2015

2. KFZ Weekly Report 2015

3.KFZ Weekly Report 2015

4.KFZ Weekly Report 2015

5.KFZ Weekly Report 2015

6.KFZ Weekly Report 2015

7.KFZ Weekly Report 2015

8.KFZ Weekly Report 2015

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12.KFZ WeeKly Report 2015

13.KFZ Weekly Report 2015

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15. KFZ Weekly Report 2015

16. KFZ Weekly Report 2015